1. Epubbing

What is an epubber? Continuum, creative control

2. Your Book

Editing, elements, experience and friends

3. Pathways

Choosing a pathway, retailers, distributors, strategies

4. Formats

File formats, epubs, Linux and LibreOffice

5. Structure

Front, body, end matter for ebooks

6. Covers

Creating a cover, channel requirements

7. Details

ISBNs, payments, tax issues compared

8. Promotion

Promotion, pricing and possibilities

9. Resources

Epubbing Pathways table, antipodean issues, blogs, links

5. Ebook Structure

Much of the formatting of the actual manuscript itself depends on which channel you've chosen to publish through, so once you've narrowed down your choice, make sure you read the relevant formatting style guides first – see the Resources page.

But you also need to understand the structure of the book outside the actual manuscript, the traditionally defined components of front matter and end matter. Ebooks are much the same, but some sections are no longer relevant, while others are increasingly useful as promotion tools for authors.

Again, this is dependent on which channel you've chosen to publish through, so again, make sure you read their support information on front and end matter first – it may save you a lot of extra work. Some channels expect you to lay out all of these extra sections yourself, while others can automatically create at least some of them from information you input when submitting the book, or from the manuscript itself.

Front Matter for Ebooks

  1. Title page
  2. Copyright page
  3. Dedication (optional)
  4. Epigraph (optional)
  5. About (optional)
  6. Table of Contents

The title and copyright pages may be created by conversion software or you may have to lay them out yourself. Similarly the Table of Contents, which is essential for ebook navigation. Because page numbers have no meaning in reflowable ebooks, the ToC will become a series of clickable links to the chapter headings.

Since ebooks naturally don't have a back cover – the usual place for a blurb or appreciative comments – a section 'About the Book' or 'Synopsis' can be useful near the start. Dedications and epigraphs (quotes relevant to the book) are up to the author.

Body Matter for Ebooks

This of course is the actual content, usually laid out in Chapters, sometimes also Parts. It will save you a lot of trouble to define your heading style for these sections, e.g. 'Heading 1', at the start of writing a manuscript, as that will usually become the default link for creating the Table of Contents, either by hand or during the ebook conversion.

End Matter for Ebooks

  • Acknowledgements
  • Index (optional)
  • Author biography
  • Other information by author
Acknowledgements sometimes appear in Front matter, but with ebooks it's a good idea to have as little up front as possible so readers can get to the actual content as fast as possible. Indexes, end-notes, glossaries etc., are more usual in non-fiction, and the means of creating them is a matter of the channel you're using.

Other information by author is essential in ebooks, as it offers a great way to engage with your readers, point them towards more of your work, and expand your audience.

In that final section you'll have the luxury of adding extracts from other books, requests for readers to leave their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads etc., or even to send you comments or questions directly.

Manuscript Setup
So be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of time of setting up the front and end matter sections of your book. It's a good idea during the writing phase to keep a file of relevant quotations, or notes on who you want to acknowledge and why, etc. – don't leave it all to the end.

Importantly, find out right from the start how your channel wants the Table of Contents set up, and in the cases where special formatting is needed (e.g. manual breaks for new chapters), do it as you go. The importance of following a channel's ToC instructions is shown by this recent issue raised by David Gaughran.

If you're using your own ISBN numbers, then you may also need to insert the ISBN on the copyright page, or again, the conversion process may automatically do so. See the Details page for more about ISBNs.

Where to Now?

The next step is all the snippets of information you will have to provide to use any of the channels, especially understanding the financials for non-US residents. Go to 6. Covers.